Michelle Grothause's Call To 911 About Her Missing Sons
Putnam County mother found inside her home before her two sons were found dead last week.
Michelle Grothause, the mother of Blake and Blaine Romes, called 911 on Thursday morning to report her sons and 17-year-old Michael Aaron Fay missing. The call says, in part:
Michelle Grothause: "We have 3 children that are missing."
911 Operator: "Ok."
Michelle Grothause: "There's blood in my house, there's a gun in my house. My car is missing."
911 Operator: "You just came home and found all this?"
Michelle Grothause: "Yes. My son was supposed to leave to go to Washington, DC this morning and he wasn't answering his phone so I had to go leave work."
911 Operator: "Does the gun look like it was used?"
Michelle Grothause: "I don't know."
911 Operator : "Is it a handgun?"
Michelle Grothause: "Yes. It's a black handgun."
911 Operator: "When you grabbed it did it look like someone had gotten it out or was it where you normally put it?"
Michelle Grothause: "No. I do not have guns in my house."
911 Operator: "I will get officers out there as soon as I can ok?"
Michelle Grothause: "Thank you. Please hurry."
After the 911 call, a statewide Amber Alert was issued for 14-year-old Blaine Romes, 17-year-old Blake Romes and 17-year-old Michael Fay. The bodies of the Romes brothers were found hours later in two separate locations near Ottawa. Fay has since been taken in custody but is only charged with auto theft. Authorities have said additional charges are pending.
The first police officer on the scene of last week’s double homicide in Putnam County saw blood throughout the mobile home, and followed its trail through a hallway into a bedroom and then to the back door, according to court documents unsealed yesterday.
After responding to the call for help made by homeowner Michelle Grothause that her two sons and a third boy were missing from the home, Officer Jason Kottenbrock of the Ottawa police said, he followed the bloody trail on the floor from the front door into one of the bedrooms, where he found two single beds — one of which had “blood on it towards the upper part of the bed,” according to the affidavit filed on the day of the homicides.
The details of the scene are starting to emerge just as Michael Aaron Fay, 17, was charged in Putnam County Juvenile Court with two delinquency counts of aggravated murder in the deaths of Grothause’s two sons — Blake Aaron Romes, 17, and Blaine Romes, 14.
With the aggravated-murder counts, the county prosecutor’s office asked Judge Michael Borer for a hearing in juvenile court to have the case transferred to the docket in Putnam County Common Pleas Court, where the teenager can be tried as an adult.
The complaint alleges that Fay committed the killings in the trailer “purposely” and with “prior calculation and design.”
An arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday before Borer to allow the teenager to enter a plea on the new charges. He pleaded not guilty last week to felony grand theft on charges of allegedly taking Grothause’s vehicle from the trailer after the slayings.
Attorney William Kluge, who was appointed by Borer to represent the youth on the grand-theft charge, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The bodies of Blaine and Blake Romes were found about 5:30 p.m. on May 9, nearly 12 hours after the county sheriff’s office handled Grothause’s telephone call reporting the boys missing and she walked into the home to find it covered in blood with a gun on the floor.
Fay gave statements that led to the locations of the victims after he was arrested in Columbus, about 120 miles southeast of Ottawa.
Prosecutor Gary Lammers said both teens suffered a single gunshot wound, and that one of the boys was strangled. He refused to elaborate on the injuries other than to say that each teen “was shot once in a very critical area of their bodies.”
Borer has not set a date for the hearing on the prosecutor’s request to have Fay tried as an adult. Lammers said he expects the proceeding to take place in June.
Fay hid the body of Blake in a crawl space under the home, concealing it from view behind the trailer skirt, and put the body of his brother in a ditch along a county road about a mile east of Ottawa, the prosecutor said.
Autopsy results for two Putnam County teenage brothers who died last week await toxicology tests, which could take two months to complete, the coroner said.
Dr. Anna Horstman, Putnam County coroner, said the Lucas County Coroner’s Office completed autopsies on Blaine and Blake Romes, ages 14 and 17, respectively, whose bodies were found after another teen pointed authorities to their locations.
But the coroner, like other officials involved in the case, remained tight-lipped Monday regarding details.
“We don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the investigation,” Dr. Horstman said.
She said toxicology testing could take six to eight weeks.
Authorities on Thursday issued an Amber Alert after the boys’ mother returned home to find her sons, as well as Michael Fay, 17, and a vehicle missing. The vehicle later was located in Columbus, and Michael was taken into custody.
Investigators found the two bodies — one under the family’s trailer and the other in a ditch east of Ottawa — based on Michael’s statements.
Thus far, he has been charged with stealing the vehicle, but officials have said additional charges could come as the investigation continues.
“We will move forward as we review it as efficiently as possible,” said Todd Schroeder, assistant county prosecutor. “I’m not going to put a timeline on it. I would indicate that we are giving this case appropriate focus, especially in light of the attention it is receiving. We are reviewing what there is to review.”
Mr. Schroeder said investigators are interviewing witnesses and evidence is being tested and processed.
Jill Del Greco, Ohio Attorney General’s office spokesman, said three state crime-scene agents went to the sites where the bodies were found, and two additional agents examined the car in Columbus at the request of Ottawa police. Evidence collected is being submitted to the Bowling Green lab for testing. Ms. Del Greco would not say what kind of testing is to be performed.
Putnam County Sheriff Michael Chandler and Ottawa police Lt. Josh Strick could not be reached for comment Monday.
Services for Blake and Blaine will be held 10 a.m., Wednesday, at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Ottawa. Visitation for the brothers was held from 2 to 8 p.m. Monday and will be held again from 2 to 8 p.m. today at the Fourth Street Gymnasium in Ottawa.
After finding her sons missing and a strange handgun and blood in her home, Michelle Grothause frantically told a sheriff’s dispatcher to send police to her house.
“I need a deputy to come out to my house. ... We have three children that are missing. There is blood in my house. There is a gun in my house and my car is missing,” Ms. Grothause said in the phone call she made at 5:30 a.m. May 9.
She was so distraught during the call that she couldn’t recall her sons’ ages.
In the ensuing investigation, her sons, Blaine Romes, 14, and Blake Aaron Romes, 17, and Michael Aaron Fay, 17, who also lives in the trailer on North Perry Street, and the Chevrolet HHR owned by Ms. Grothause became the subject of an Amber Alert.
The Fay youth, who is the son of Ms. Grothause’s partner, was arrested later that day in Columbus at a gas station with the car.
Nearly 12 hours after deputies took Ms. Grothause’s phone call, they found the bodies of the Romes brothers, one in a ditch on a county road outside the village and the other in a crawl space under the trailer.
In the call released by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, Ms. Grothause said she left her job at an Ottawa appliance factory and went home after she was unable to reach her sons by phone.
She said she found the trailer empty as well as blood and a handgun that didn’t belong there.
Ms. Grothause said in the call on the nonemergency line that she doesn’t own a gun, but she believed it belonged to her partner’s former boyfriend and that the weapon had been put in storage.
Sheriff’s office phone logs released Wednesday also show that authorities feared the worst after stepping into the family trailer and seeing the crime scene.
The investigation and search for the teens quickly spread outside the village and county.
Shortly before 6 a.m., police began calling hospitals to see if the teenagers had been taken to emergency rooms because of the amount of blood found in the trailer.
Looking for Ms. Grothause’s silver HHR, officers went to a home on State Rt. 15 and another residence in Elida, Ohio.
A storage locker business in the Allen County community also was searched because the handgun found in the trailer had been stored there.
In a 6:30 a.m. posting, police asked for a canine tracking unit because “muddy clothes” were found in the trailer.
“Could turn into a possible homicide investigation,” according to the call sheet posting at 7 a.m., four hours before the department issued the Amber Alert.
Officers talked to the superintendent of Ottawa-Glandorf Schools, where the Romes brothers attended classes, and to the Fay youth’s high school in Elida, the report said.
Police called authorities in Logan County, Ohio, to send officers to a campground to look for the vehicle.
Other law enforcement agencies were sent to look for the HHR at roadside rest areas in Delaware County, north of Columbus.
After the Fay youth and the vehicle were found in Columbus, the dispatch log said authorities were notified to “check for bodies, not just people walking around.”
In her call to the sheriff’s office, Ms. Grothause told the dispatcher she was en route back to her residence after picking up Vickie Fay, who is her partner and the mother of the Fay youth.
The women, who live together, work the night shift at the Whirlpool plant in Ottawa.
Blaine Romes, who was an eighth grader at the elementary in Ottawa, was supposed to be at the elementary in nearby Glandorf to join classmates for a trip to Washington.
She told the dispatcher that she went home after she couldn’t reach him on the phone.
So far, the Fay youth is only charged with delinquency in connection with grand theft for allegedly stealing the HHR that was taken from the trailer.
He pleaded not guilty during a hearing Friday in Putnam County Juvenile Court.
Gary Lammers, Putnam County prosecutor, said he planned to meet this week with investigators to review reports and the case file, and that his office could pursue additional charges, possibly early next week.
Mr. Lammers has not provided a motive for the crimes.
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